Christmas 2011 | Still in the Grip of Change

I don’t send Christmas letters in cards. I don’t even send many Christmas cards. I’m sorry. It’s not that I don’t want to. It’s a combination of poor advanced planning and letting time get away from me (due in part to working any and all overtime allowed). In fact, I wrote in three handmade Christmas cards this morning through tears because I won’t see those people on Christmas. There were only three cards because I only had three stamps left. So this is my “Christmas letter”.

That’s me in the photo. I thought it was fitting to use because I know times were tight at that time, and times are tight for us now. I can’t help but feel bad about not being able to give as much as we have in the past; yet, I’m not at all sad about not receiving as much. Look how happy I was with that doll! I’m sure she wasn’t the latest and “greatest” doll in the big name store, and I didn’t care a bit! It was a doll, and it was mine, and I loved it!

Since we’re not able to spend Christmas with extended family, my favorite thing about the day is spending time around the table playing games that make us burst with laughter, grazing on ham throughout the day, and lounging in the family room watching movies together. The few minutes first thing in the morning spent opening a few gifts have become a very minor part of the day. What is it that’s written in a great book about three things … faith, hope, and love? The greatest of these is love. You can’t wrap that in a box and tie it up with ribbon. We can only hope for a brighter future and have faith that it will come to exist!

Here’s where the family newsletter comes in…

For those who missed the major change that happened in our lives about this time last year, you can read about that here. Big adjustments were made, including credit counseling and entering a debt management program to get rid of credit card debt in five years (less than four years to go now!). So even when it seemed that we could give more freely, we really couldn’t – we charged it. Never a good plan. Don’t do it! So we truly are living on cash now. The only card we swipe now is the debit card.

Since then, I did get a raise at the normal annual review time. This is good, considering that many places are foregoing raises in this economy. Then about five months later, I was promoted and received another raise! Don’t get too excited – I still basically do the same thing, just more of it. :) Greg even gets a few more dollars in his weekly paycheck now. It’s funny, though, how movies and television used to make getting a raise seem so huge, but really it’s more about the recognition of a job well done because the extra money (minus taxes) might be just enough to cover a fast food dinner from the value menu for the family each week. :D

Ali had a summer job this year and bought a car with her own money! She’s not currently working through the school year as she’s heavily involved in all things theater (even choir) on top of AP classes. She recently played Scrooge’s little sister, Fan, in A Christmas Carol!

Jason graduated from Redstone College and is now a certified airframe & powerplant mechanic. Then he moved out! Now he’s going to be moving again from just six miles away to six hours away in New Mexico, where he’ll be working as an A&P mechanic for Great Lakes Airlines.

Josh got a full-time maintenance job working nights at Walmart. He’s saving for a car that he’ll most likely have to pay cash for, which means waiting longer to get more than a beater. The whole credit game is odd. You have to work for money to buy a car, but you need transportation to get to work! Fortunately, he gets a ride most nights from a friend who also works there and can use one of our cars at night other times.

Miranda is still too young to work, but she talks about wanting to get a work permit as soon as she can to start working earlier than 16. We’ll see how that works out, but I admire her desire! She’s also involved in theater and choir, including a separate a Capella group that sounds amazing! She is part of a six-girl singing and dancing ensemble in the “Beauty School Dropout” scene in their spring musical, GREASE!

So our wallets may not be full of money, but our hearts are full of love. That is something we can give to all! We wish everyone a Merry Christmas and hope for a more prosperous New Year!

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